When I heard my friend John say the words I knew someplace deep that something had been powerfully distorted in my mind. "Faith is never the grounds for salvation, never a meritorious work in your behavior." "Your believing, while an essential response, proves only that His grace was extended to you."
"It is by grace you have been saved, yet it is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God."
For years I believed that I had invited God into my life. I had prayed the prayer asking Him to come in. We sang the song, "Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart, Lord Jesus." I literally believed that somehow Jesus entered my heart because of my choosing of Him. I didn't realize that I had it backwards. He didn't enter into me. I entered into Him.
I didn't choose Him. He chose me. It was His grace that was shown to me inviting me to receive His eternal gift. It's not just the gift of heaven. It's not even about forgiveness of my sins.
The invitation of God woos me to respond to a love that has been and always will be. It's a love that offers me to come as I am and be known for who I was made to be. It restores all that was broken, reconciling me to Him completely.
Somehow things got all mixed up.
I've used the term too many times to count.. "I need to get that from my head into my heart." As I type the words I see the disparity in them. If I truly embrace the gift of this God I love why do I struggle between two worlds of head and heart?
God gives His gifts for free. He expects nothing in return. He's just plain crazy about me. After all He made me to love.
As I have seen my justification, so I have seen my sanctification. The same way I believed I had my part in being made right with God, I have believed I have my role in being transformed. I've spent the better part of my life running around trying to make myself worthy, acceptable, lovable. All the while all He wanted for me was that I would receive the gift so freely given.
If Jesus paid it all then how can I owe Him anything? What could I ever do that would be enough? In some strange, warped way I believed that I owed Him my life.
I believed I played my part in salvation therefore I must play my part in cleaning myself up. I see how subtlety the lies wove their way into the fabric of my walk. I see how naturally I became the one who would work hard to make who she was better.
It is by grace I have been saved. It is a gift from God so that no man can boast. Without receiving I will do nothing but strive and try to prove myself worthy. I will need to "one-up" others around me. I will have to do more and be better.
In that one moment when I took His outstretched hand offered He joined me to Him. He called me righteous. He announced I was holy. He wiped out all my sins, past, present and future. Everything that had been broken was made new. I was totally and completely reconciled to God on no part of my own. It's astounding to consider.
Awakenings come frequently now. This beautiful thing that I have walked into is absolutely and totally His. Transformation is taking ahold of my life.
It is by grace I am saved. It is by grace I am changed... Grace - charis, a gift which is freely given. The extravagant love of my God not only has reconciled me to Him. He wants nothing from me but that I would let Him love me. Another lie bites the dust as this beautiful Spirit inside reveals the truth that sets me free. Freely He gives, freely I receive.
©copyrighted: 2011; Julie L. Todd